Maybe this mayor has consumed too much Bordeaux wine. But this story is a wonderfully comical illustration of how ineffective management mandates, targets, quotas, and the fear of punishment can actually be.
The mayor of a village in southwest France has threatened residents with severe punishment if they die, because there is no room left in the overcrowded cemetery to bury them.
In an ordinance posted in the council offices, Mayor Gerard Lalanne told the 260 residents of the village of Sarpourenx that “all persons not having a plot in the cemetery and wishing to be buried in Sarpourenx are forbidden from dying in the parish.”
It added: “Offenders will be severely punished.”
I doubt they attempted a “5 Whys” exercise that went like this (imagine an Inspector Clouseau accent — the Peter Sellers one, not the lame Steve Martin one):
- Why is zee cemetery full?
- Because people are dying!!
Eh, sounds like zee root cause to me. Hmm…. let’s drink more wine!!
Talk about NOT getting to a solvable root cause of the problem!!
And for any of you who are laughing at this or the mayor, he proactively responded:
“It may be a laughing matter for some, but not for me,” he said.
Are any of our managers trying to manage the same way? Through mandates and threats? In the name of improving quality? Preventing errors or safety incidents?” Mandates, fear, and threats just lead to people hiding problems or being really creative in making things look good (rather than making real improvements). Have any examples to share?
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